Shamanism is considered to be the oldest human form of spiritual expression, with archaeological evidence indicating its origins may go back around 40 – 50,000 years. It has its roots in many diverse cultures worldwide, including the Pictish peoples who populated northern Britain.
The word ‘shaman’ comes from the Tungus people of Siberia and can be translated as ‘one who knows’, highlighting that shamanism is not a belief system but is based upon direct personal knowledge and experience. This wisdom is deeply rooted in time-honoured traditions and yet remains appropriate and applicable to modernity, allowing us to reclaim our individual, authentic spiritual authority.
The core shamanic world view espouses the principle that the whole of existence, including rivers, mountains, rocks, the star nations and the earth itself, is imbued with consciousness. Through practices designed to facilitate a shift in perception, such as song, drumming, rattling and dance, the shamanic practitioner is able to enter a visionary trance-state, known as the shamanic journey, and access ‘non-ordinary reality’. Meetings and communication with spirit helpers, in the form of animals, ancestral allies, angelic guides and spirits of nature, is then available to the practitioner.
Shamanic practices are always undertaken with a clear intent; for healing purposes, problem solving and general well-being – either for self, another individual, the community or the land and its inhabitants.
In these changing times, we are beginning to comprehend the limitations of our narrow human-oriented view of the world. Many people are experiencing a heart-felt need to reconnect and communicate with non-human life – to hear the voices of animals, plants, trees and the whole of nature that we share this planet with. Through shamanic practices we are able to access this communication and explore our unity and wholeness with life, bringing about greater balance and kinship.